TCN 2013 Cards Minors Starter of the Year

Springfield's Zach Petrick is The Cardinal Nation's top starting pitcher in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system for 2013.

We began with a population of 35 pitchers from which we will name our annual cross-system award winner as the top starting pitcher in the St. Louis Cardinals system. A reminder of the ground rules follows at the end of this article.

The candidates

Here are the organizational leaders among starters in the statistical categories of ERA and WHIP, walks plus hits per innings pitched.

Earned run average Team Rate
Zach Petrick Peo-PB-Spr 1.99
Cory Jones Peo 2.04
Sam Gaviglio GCL-PB 2.22
Ramon Santos DSL 2.48
Carlos Martinez Spr-Mem 2.49
Ryan Sherriff PB-Spr 2.57
Michael Wacha Mem 2.65
Walks+hits per inning Team Rate
Sam Gaviglio GCL-PB 0.95
Michael Wacha Mem 0.99
Zach Petrick Peo-PB-Spr 1.03
Cory Jones Peo 1.03
Tyler Lyons Mem 1.04
Ryan Sherriff PB-Spr 1.16
Carlos Martinez Spr-Mem 1.17

Two current major leaguers and top prospects, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez, make appearances, though not at the very top of the lists.

Our top hurler at Peoria, Cory Jones, had a very strong showing, as did two-time Palm Beach Pitcher of the Year Ryan Sherriff.

WHIP leader Sam Gaviglio's stellar numbers would drop back a bit had he not made several rehab appearances down in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Though Gaviglio made the 40-inning minimum to be considered, he pitched only about half a season. That is one key reason why the right-hander is currently working in the Arizona Fall League.

The final repeater on the ERA and WHIP lists is Zach Petrick. The right-hander logged the only sub-2.00 ERA among this population.

Now, let's consider strikeout and walk rates as well as strikeout to walk ratio.

Strikeouts per nine innings Team Rate
Jorge Rodriguez DSL 10.3
Zach Petrick Peo-PB-Spr 9.7
Juan Perez GCL 8.9
Boone Whiting Spr-Mem 8.8
Tim Cooney PB-Spr 8.6
Ramon Santos DSL 8.5
Willy Paulino SC 8.5
Walks per nine innings Team Rate
Tim Cooney PB-Spr 1.3
Tyler Lyons Mem 1.7
Ryan Sherriff PB-Spr 1.9
Joey Cuda Peo-PB 1.9
Michael Wacha Mem 2.0
Kyle Hald PB-Spr 2.0
Zach Petrick Peo-PB-Spr 2.1
Strikeout to walk ratio Team Rate
Tim Cooney PB-Spr 6.7
Tyler Lyons Mem 4.5
Zach Petrick Peo-PB-Spr 4.5
Joey Cuda Peo-PB 4.4
Michael Wacha Mem 3.8
Ramon Santos DSL 3.4

Several short-season standouts rank well on the strikeout list, including leader Jorge Rodriguez and Ramon Santos from the Dominican Summer League and Juan Perez from the Gulf Coast League. However, none of them are among those with the lowest walk rates.

Joey Cuda and Kyle Hald are included on the list of stingiest in issuing free passes and was Memphis left-hander (and also St. Louis pitcher) Tyler Lyons.

Despite appearing among both the strikeout and walk leaders, Springfield's Tim Cooney did not rank with the ERA and WHIP leaders. While he gave up a few more hits than some of the others, no one walked fewer. It is also worth noting the lefty carried a heavy workload, throwing a system-high 154 1/3 innings in his first full season as a professional.


The winner

Showing up again on all the lists is Petrick, including the second-highest strikeout rate among starters and one of only two averaging more than one K per inning.

Similar to his Springfield teammate and our 2013 Reliever of the Year Lee Stoppelman, Petrick is moving up in recognition. He was our system-wide top rookie starter in 2012.

This season, Petrick was named a Midwest League All-Star, but was almost immediately promoted to Palm Beach, so did not play in the game. The Morris, IL native moved up to Double-A Springfield in mid-July, in time to make nine Texas League starts.

Because the 24-year-old right-hander pitched at three levels during the season, he did not accrue enough totals at any one stop to be named our top starter at Peoria, Palm Beach or Springfield. There was always another on those clubs who had been successful for a longer period of time.

However, the 2012-non-drafted free agent's impressive 2013 results will not fall through the cracks here. Given his lone appearance on all five of these system-wide leaderboards, indicating a very high level of balanced performance, I hereby name Zach Petrick The Cardinal Nation Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year for 2013.

The ground rules

For award consideration, a pitcher resided in only one population. Either he was in the starter or reliever group (based on a simple majority of appearances as one or the other). Stats by role were not broken out.

A player was designated as either a rookie or a returnee based on whether or not 2013 was his first season pitching professionally. The Dominican Summer League is considered the same as any other.

A pitcher must have thrown at least 40 innings combined across all minor league levels of play to be included. He did not have to be his team's Pitcher of the Year as named by The Cardinal Nation to be considered.

Among the pitching stats I evaluated are ERA, WHIP, walks per nine innings, strikeouts per nine innings and strikeout to walk ratio. Only minor league numbers are included here.

Data I did not consider strongly for pitchers include age, level, round drafted, wins/losses and saves. Remember, this is not about selecting the top prospects. It is about 2013 results at the levels to which the players were assigned by the organization.

Bonus coverage

For further details about our award-winning hurler, check out this article from mid-August, "Zach Petrick: Fastest-rising Cards prospect?". In addition, subscribers to The Cardinal Nation can listen to Petrick discuss his 2013 success first-hand.

Note: For more information on all The Cardinal Nation minor league award winners for 2013, subscribers should click on this link. You will be taken to an index page with links to all articles about previous winners across the system club by club, schedule for upcoming award announcements as well as 2013 team recaps.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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